The Fallacy of Ratings

This is a wine review - and it is a rant.  It is also well-trodden territory:  Wine writers, producers, and consumers alike decry the unfairness of wine scores, unless, of course, they lean their way.  Well, boo hoo. 

Here's my rub: through repeated panel tastings, wines awarded prestige through ratings fail to impress with any consistency or correlation to their scores - especially at the higher ratings.  This is across the board as far as publications go, too: Parker, Spectator, doesn't matter.

Okay, so it's further evidence that wine is as subjective as art.  Different strokes for different folks.  No big shocker.  But consumers aren't being done any favors, especially at the highest end.  Case in point is this wine which was (probably mistakenly) sent as a sample - the 2008 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden from Barossa Valley. 

Here are the combined tasting notes from three evaluators:

Near black-crimson, intimidating looking.  Has the viscosity of blood.  Serious just sitting in the glass.  Clocking in at a whopping 15.8%, the heat on the nose moves spices, oak, and black currant notes quickly.  Complex palate.  Rather than being fruit bombastic, this racy Shiraz shows its Viognier proudly.  Immediately enjoyable, but possibly an ager.  The $60 is tough to swallow unless you are an Aussie aficionado/collector.  In the final analysis, though, there are many Australian wines that deliver equivalent pleasure for a quarter the price.

The tasters knew of the price tag and the wine's origin, but nothing of the brand or rating.  What they didn't know (neither did I) is that this wine was given 94 points and ranked #2 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2010.  There's no question that this is a pleasant wine to drink, but really?  Number 2?

This is far from an isolated incident, too.  Parker called the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape from Domaine de la Janasse, " of the stars of the vintage." It was okay, but nothing to right home about.  Schild's Shiraz was also given 94 points - we found it to be rather pedestrian.  This list goes on and on.

So, what's my point?  Nothing new.  Just that people should let their own palates guide them to their definition of what's good and what isn't.

Here's hoping your weekend involves enjoying whatever it is that pleases your particular palate.